Monday, May 2, 2011

Just how good we got it?

Sitting in an Elections Canada office in an E-day training last week, listening to repetitive droning, my mind wandered as I thought, "could they assume we were any dumber?"

But it's all a process. There are rules. There is even a disclaimer note about how the manual refers to the elector as a collective "he," and is not meant to be gender biased in any way. Everything is done on paper. Ensuring a paper trail exists. All the rules are to ensure the election is as free, fair and as void of interference as possible, The long list of possible identification documents is like a reminder that the goal is to get everyone to vote, to make it easy as possible to vote.

How good do we have it? Shall we count our virtues?

Last election, I wrote a comment piece for The Manitoban, which was also during the 2008 US Presidential election. All the hoopla, all the pomp and circumstance that surrounds a US election, prompted many to compare Canadian politics to American. That Canadian politics are boring and that we should wane to the exciting, edge-of-your-seat American style.

Three years later, my article still stands (though the archive link no longer works/exists, sorry) Canadian politics are devoid of the below-childish antics of American politicians. Devoid of ridiculousness such as whether or not Barack Obama was born in Hawaii. Or of hysterical debates over the location of a Mosque.

We do not have to listen to a rich millionaire businessman with a bad haircut and a bad reality TV show go on about Obama's birth certificate. We simply wouldn't put up with such egotistical grandstanding. We wouldn't put up with a candidate like Sarah Palin, we wouldn't allow a crackpot religious-right group like the Tea Party take root and become part of mainstream discourse.

This is the American system some, 3 years ago, so beloved. Now I am more likely to attribute that to the excitement surrounding Obama's campaign. The same American system now, 3 years into Obama's first term, shows what we Canadians proudly detest.

Union-crushing bills sweeping the nation, passing in Wisconsin, Ohio, that deny organized labour the rights to collectively bargain. That such legislation could even surface, to Canadians, is abhorrent.

The dictatorship legislation passing in Benton Harbour, Michigan? In which the state effectively blames democratically elected municipal governments as the problem, giving the state the power to dissolve your local government and replace it with an "Emergency Financial Manager."

The legislation that was tabled in Arizona that required a long-form birth certificate or, not joking, circumcision certificate, as proof of identity, to be put on the presidential ballot. Luckily it was vetoed by the Arizonan Governor.

Most insulting to citizens is that it is actually National Republican election strategy to make it as hard as possible for people to sign up to vote. This has manifested in several states which put all kinds of silly restrictions on being legally eligible to vote. Which is the complete opposite of universal suffrage

We can proudly say as Canadians that we try to remove all possible barriers to vote. At my E-Day training it was stressed that the point of the position of voter registration, is to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to vote. All people only need show proof of identity and proof of address...that is it.

That alone should make us proud and thankful to live here. When you try to do that down south, you might end up with something like the the outlandish "ACORN" so-called scandal. An organization advocating for low income families that was accused of voter fraud, for signing up poor and marginalized citizens to vote...people who would be inclined to vote Democrat.

Our scandals in Canada don't revolve around making things harder for people, or removing people's fundamental rights. We don't dictate where a Mosque can be built, there isn't even debate on it. These are all non issues for us in Canada. Our Federal issues are about economics, tax structures, military contracts over fighter jets.

And in 35's all over, we resume our normal lives. By the end of May 2nd, we will know who will be leading our country. We don't have to wait for voting machine counts and vote count challenges in federal courts, holding up the official announcement for days or weeks.

Look to the Middle East. People put their lives on the line for the kind of life we live. People immigrate here to find a better life without arbitrary prosecution.

Today you can have a say on who you think you should run the country you live in. Don't take that liberty lightly.


Reed Solomon said...

Did you say Canada is immune to American style shenanigans?


Anonymous said...

Good post!

Whenever I start to feel depressed about the state of Canadian politics, I look at the asinine nonsense going on south of the border and suddenly feel a bit better about what we have here.

Back in the '90s, a major U.S. newspaper described Canada as an honorary member of the Third World because of our large budget deficits. Now, between the huge U.S. deficits, the birthers and the shrill ideology, among other things, it's the U.S. that is now an honorary member of the Third World.